NSBE member Dante J. O’Hara, a first-year student in the University of California, Riverside’s materials science and engineering Ph.D. program, is an innovator in a field related to quantum computing. These futuristic technologies attempt to harness the nature and behavior of atoms and subatomic particles to create computers much faster and more powerful at problem-solving than the transistor-based computers of today.

With the support of a NSBE Graduate Student Professional Scholarship, O'Hara recently presented at the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC)-affiliated second annual review for the Center for Spintronic Materials, Interfaces, and Novel Architectures (C-SPIN). C-SPIN brings together top researchers from across the nation to develop technologies for spin-based computing and memory systems. The center's goal is to investigate groundbreaking technologies that will enable computer systems to operate using electrons' quantum-mechanical property of "spin," as opposed to the electrons' charge, which is the basis of today's computers.

O'Hara, a GEM National Consortium Fellow, earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from UC Riverside in June and is continuing his studies under professor Roland Kawakami of UC Riverside and The Ohio State University.

At the annual review, O'Hara presented a poster titled, "Large Area Transfer and Optoelectronic Properties of Multilayer Epitaxial Germanane," which explained work on a new two-dimensional (2D) semiconductor that enables the development of higher-speed electronics and optoelectronics, such as photovoltaics, LEDs, lasers, thermoelectrics and sensors. Germanane is a new material composed of a single atomic sheet of germanium atoms covalently bonded by hydrogen and synthesized by atom-by-atom deposition, a powerful technique called "molecular beam epitaxy." O'Hara was a member of a team that developed a technique to transfer a film of germanane to a desired insulating substrate to study its material characteristics. Germanane has high "electron mobility" — a term that refers to the ability of an electron to accelerate through a material — which is a desirable property for electronics because it can enable faster computer chips. Electrons can move through germanane 10 times faster than through silicon and five times faster than through conventional germanium.

O'Hara's specific contribution was a transfer technique, known as "electrochemical delamination." This technique enabled his research group to learn the electronic and optoelectronic properties of germanane by transferring the material to insulating silicon substrates. Now able to determine properties such as band gap, absorption edge, crystallinity and resistivity, the group can study how electrons are behaving in the material and learn how to make the material properties better for industrial-scale use. The group is working on a manuscript that covers the transfer and material properties of epitaxial germanane for a major journal.

The conference, held in St. Paul, Minn., last September, included an industry information and networking session with semiconductor company representatives.

"This is a great opportunity for graduate students to decide if they want to go into industry- or academic-based careers after completion of their Ph.D.," O'Hara said.

More information about the C-SPIN conference can be found at

Learn more about Dante O’Hara and his work at http://linkd.in/17dmfZ6 on LinkedIn, and on the website of the Kawakami Group,

If you're a NSBE graduate student member and will be attending a conference soon, apply for a travel award here: http://connect.nsbe.org/Scholarships/ScholarshipList.aspx.

This is a great opportunity for graduate students to decide if they want to go into industry- or academic-based careers after completion of their Ph.D.